Three bombs went off in the heart of Mumbai last night, killing 17 people and wounding 131 others. The Associated Press describes this as “the worst terror strike in the country since the siege of Mumbai that killed 166 people 31 months ago.” The death toll might be raised to 18, once authorities figure out who a severed head found at one of the blast sites belongs to.
That attack was carried out by Islamic militants based in Pakistan. India accused the Pakistani intelligence service of coordinating those rampaging gunmen, leading to a suspension of peace talks between the two countries. Those talks only resumed recently. The new blasts might be part of a strategy to derail them again.
According to a Bloomberg news report, “the blasts went off around 7 p.m. as many of the city’s 18 million people were heading home,” and targeted “commuters in central Dadar district as well as the Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar, home to the nation’s biggest gem and gold trading centers.” One of the bombs was hidden in a bus shelter; another was concealed beneath an umbrella on the side of the road.
Indian authorities are not jumping to any conclusions about the perpetrators. Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said “all groups hostile to India are on the radar… we are not pointing a finger at this stage.” He also said there was no advance warning of the bombings: “Whoever has perpetrated this attack has worked in a very, very clandestine manner.”
The government rushed to reassure citizens worried about their safety. A Mumbai resident quoted by the Associated Press said, “After the 200 blast and all the media hype about safety, we thought we were safe, but things are still the same, and people in Mumbai continue to feel vulnerable.”
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist group, thinks the current government is too soft on terrorists, and Pakistan’s role in supporting them. “The government of India must shed its ambivalent attitude to terrorism,” declared senior Party leader L.K. Advani. “Our message to Pakistan should be that you must dismantle the infrastructure for terrorism that you have created.”